Space Art

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Space Art is a popular area of astronomy that allows the artist to rove in their imagination as well as demonstrate their abilities to depict light & shade as well as real physical phenomena. We are fortunate to have our own space artist in residence within CaDAS, Michael Roe, who lives in Brotton. Here follows some samples of his work:

Space Art, aslo called Astronomical Art, is the art of depicting (usually thought the media of painting, but more recently through digital image manipulation) the Universe, ranging from its past, present or future aided by the imagination of the artist and whatever facts are available to him or her.

The history of space art begins in the nineteenth century when large telescopes were revealling a great deal of new knowledge about the universe, especially of the Moon and Mars. Possibly the first space artist, working around the time of 1874, was a photographer and model maker, James Naismith, who mostly photographed plaster models of rugged lunar mountains and craters although he did indulge in some paintings of the Moons surface and an eclipse.

In the early twentieth century more space artists, such as Abbe Moreux and Scrivener Bolton, began their work, but the most important of these early pioneers was the frenchman Lucian Rudaux. Like many artists before and after (and indeed up to the Apollo moon landings) he specialised in painting the moons surface, but unlike most others he depicted lunar mountains as low rounded features, exactly as they are. Rudaux knew this simply by observing the edge of the moon through a good telescope.

The next and probably most famous space artist was the American Chesley Bonestell, who began his astronomical paintings in the 1940s with his painting of Titan with a crescent Saturn in the sky - certainly the most famous space painting ever done. Bonestell did many other paintings of spacecraft in orbit, wheel shaped space stations, astronauts on the moon, other plantes and their satellites, craggy lunar surfaces and some planets around other stars. However, his main achievement was to popularise space travel years before it ever happened.

By the 1970s many other artists were illustrating books. I was inspired by Ludek Pesek, a Czechoslovakian, who did quite realistic paintings of planets and their moons in our solar system. Other well known space artists include: the Americans William Hartman, Don Dixon, Don Davis, Adolf Schaller, the Britains David Hardy, Paul Doherty and Kazuaki Iwasaki from Japan.


The space artist that I consider to be very special are the Russian, Alexi Leonov and the American, Alan Bean, because they have been in space. Leonov was the first man to walk in space in 1965, he naturally paints panoramic views of the Earth from orbit with spacecraft and cosmonauts. Alan Bean actually landed on the Moon in 1969 on the Apollo 12 mission. His paintings are all of the various Apollo landings, including his own. An interesting fact is that a few of his paintings incorporate tiny pieces of his space patch which has been on the Moon and has Moon dust in it - surely the ultimate in space art, which must increase its monetary value a great deal.

The pictures above are a few of Michaels Roe own work.